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The Passion Story, Part 2

July 14, 2011
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Now I will return to a comparison of the Passion Story in the four New Testament Gospels. This time I will back up to the Jerusalem Entry and also review the Anointing Scene.

It’s interesting that in Matthew and Mark the Anointing comes after the Entry, but not in John. Of course, the Anointing Scene comes before the Entry in Luke, too, but there the story isn’t even related to Jesus’ final trip to Jerusalem. That story presents a completely different lesson, and the anointing is not protested by Jesus’ disciples.

I can’t say if the placement of the story in a different order changes the definite statements it makes regarding the timeline. I find the significant difference in how the Jerusalem Entry is recounted.  In the three Synoptic Gospels, Jesus sends his disciples to get the colt; in John, he is just said to “find” it—during his entry of the city.

I have some more comments to make on these two scenes. First, regarding the Anointing, Jesus says in Matthew and Mark that the woman, who John equates with Mary of Bethany (who is not even in the other Gospels, although she and her sister Martha were perhaps inspired by the Galilean sisters Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42) anointed him to prepare his body for burial (Matthew26:12 and Mark 14:8). I have always thought this was an odd statement, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the woman did this intentionally, expecting Jesus’ soon death. John doesn’t include this statement; in fact, the focus of the story in John is entirely on Judas Iscariot’s reaction (as if it was different from the reaction of the other disciples).

Second, Jesus says, again in only Matthew and Mark, that wherever “this” (what?) gospel is preached, this woman’s action will be remembered. I don’t know what this supposed to mean, but I think it basically hasn’t happened. Yes, any missionary effort is likely to produce a copy of Matthew, Mark, or John, but that is not certain to happen in every single location. And since it’s not, the Anointing Scene will probably not be recounted, because it has no necessary relationship to the Crucifixion and Resurrection.

John 12 says that the chief priest wanted to kill (by execution may not be the sense) Lazarus. Leaving alone the absurdity of thinking these people wanted to intentionally suppress the truth, I don’t know how killing Lazarus would have changed anything. The story was already out. Also, John writes about the raising of Lazarus from the dead, as if Lazarus was the only person raised from the dead by Jesus.

Finally, the Gospels cite Zechariah 9:9, and by extension the whole passage of the verse’s context, as foretelling Jesus’ entry on a donkey. I encourage you to look again at that passage and ask if anything in the context implies, or maybe excludes, a scene as in the Gospels’ Entry story.

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